Senior KDP member suggests Kurds should stay neutral in Baghdad

"For us Kurds, it's better not to intervene in this issue."
Ali Awni, a member of the KDP's leadership council (Photo: Kurdistan 24)
Ali Awni, a member of the KDP's leadership council (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Ali Awni, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leadership council, believes that the Kurds should stay out of any post-election disputes between the influential Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr and the Iran-backed political parties that reject that election's results.

"The formation of the (next) Iraqi government has entered a dark phase," Awni told Kurdistan 24 on Wednesday.

"I think if a government is formed under the current situation, it will not last long, and it will fall another time, especially after the opposition (the election's losers) protest (the results)."

A political alliance led by Muqtada al-Sadr, a self-styled populist Shia leader, came in first place in the Oct. 10 vote. But pro-Iran parties lost many of their parliamentary seats in the election, particularly the Fatah Alliance. 

They have accused Iraq's Independent High Election Commission (IHEC) of committing fraud, rejected the results, and organized protests in Baghdad. This has led to fears that the tensions between Sadr and other factions could escalate and lead to more instability.

Awni pointed out that widespread protests in late 2019 also toppled the government Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, who was replaced by the current Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in May 2020.

"If the United States and Iran agree to give Sadr a chance to form the next government, the opposition will threaten this," he said. "They will not let this government succeed. And if they don't allow Sadr to form a government, Sadr will try to undermine the government."

"For us Kurds, it's better not to intervene in this issue," he said. "We should see which party will settle and form the largest bloc."

In the contentious 2010 Iraqi elections, Ayad Allawi came head to head with then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is close to Iran, and won more seats. Nevertheless, Maliki was eventually able to secure the premiership. Allawi accused Tehran of meddling in the election's outcome.  

"Ayad Allawi had the largest bloc, but they found a legal trick and did not let him form the government. Ibrahim Jaafari and Maliki took it from him," Awni said. "This was a bad model, and now there is Sadr (election victory). Maybe external forces might not accept him to form a government, and this will cause a big problem for Iraq."

Read More: Ayad Allawi: 'No suitable election environment in Iraq'

Awni said the problem is that Iraqi politicians do not care about stability, only in their shares in government. 

"This led to corruption and instability in the country and system," he said. 

Kurdish unity

Awni also said that the Kurds should form a coalition in the Iraqi parliament. However, he mentioned that some Kurdish parties are already refusing to participate in the government, such as the Islamic Union of Kurdistan, New Generation, and the Kurdistan Justice Group led by Ali Bapir.

However, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and KDP are not opposed to joining the government. 

"All the KDP's effort is (focused on) having the KDP and PUK in the Iraqi parliament as one Kurdish bloc, even if it needs compromise," Awni said. 

He welcomed PUK co-chair Bafel Talabani's messages about Kurdish unity. Talabani met with KDP President Masoud Barzani in a rare meeting last week. 

Read More: KDP leader, PUK co-chair talk Kurdish unity in rare meeting

He also expressed his hope that there isn't a repeat of the past situation in which some Kurdish parties, in the name of opposition, "started to oppose the Kurdistan Region's interests." 

"We hope we don't end up in such a situation," he said. 


The senior Kurdish official also said that the Kurdish youth who attempted to enter Europe from Belarus have become victims of smugglers and human traffickers. 

"They have become a toy in the political conflict between Belarus and Poland," Awni said. 

On Thursday, over 400 Kurds on a flight from Belarus arrived in the Kurdistan Region. However, there are still hundreds of Kurdish migrants stuck in Belarus that want to migrate to Europe.

Read more: Migrants returning to Kurdistan from Belarus border say they saw no opportunity to cross into EU states

"In reality, Kurdistan is safe," Awni said. "But everyone is looking for a better life, and the life in Europe (compared to Kurdistan) is better."